COA to MWSS: Return P82M illegal perks

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COA to MWSS: Return P82M illegal perks
The petition for review filed by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Regulatory Office on the notices of disallowance came too late, says COA

MANILA, Philippines – State auditors have junked with finality the appeal of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO) on the notices of disallowance it had issued against the government corporation’s allowances, bonuses, incentives, and other benefits totaling P82,242,414.99.

The Commission on Audit (COA) said that it can no longer consider the petition for review filed by MWSS officer-in-charge Estrella T. Decena-Zaldivar and other officials, as it was submitted beyond the 6-month period allowed for appeals.

“The reglementary period was already exhausted before the filing of the instant petition for review. For failure of the petitioners to assail the NDs within the time prescribed, the same have attained finality,” the COA said in a decision released on Tuesday, April 28.

COA also noted that the petitioners did not even offer any argument to justify the delayed filing of the review petition.

“Wherefore, premises considered, the petition for review…is hereby dismissed for having been filed out of time. Accordingly, the 48 Notices of Disallowance…are final and executory,” the decision said.

COA said the unauthorized cash gratuities were paid on top of regular salaries, bonuses and allowances received by MWSS officials, employees, and members of the Board of Trustees in 2009.

“Records show that the Supervising Auditor (SA), after auditing the transactions of MWSS-RO for the year 2009, disallowed the payment of allowances, bonuses, incentives and other benefits…for lack of legal basis,” the COA Commission Proper declared.

Following a review of MWSS financial records, state auditors issued a series of notices of disallowance from July 2010 to June 2012.

The MWSS, however, only pursued a recall of the disallowance notices long after the  prescribed period – after 10 to 15 months – leading to the final COA ruling.

Citing the doctrine of finality of judgment enunciated by the Supreme Court in the case of Vios vs. Pantangco Jr, COA said that a decision, once final, “cannot be changed nor modified even if the modification is meant to correct an erroneous conclusion of fact or law.” –

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